I’ve found a new pen pal in my editor, Charmaine, who’s based in Hong Kong. We write each other about once a week, mostly just girl/mommy talk, but discussions inadvertently find their way back to food. One of our latest topics has been what we bake when we need a little pick-me-up, something that lifts our spirits on a dowdy day, or a sweet treat when we are simply in a gluttonous mood. She has a soft-spot for the all-American cakes, stacked high, with lashings of frosting. For me, nothing quite does it like heady amounts of chocolate, and this cookie recipe by the fabulous Dorie Greenspan, is my current obsession.
I don’t know the reason behind the name World Peace Cookies, but I hazard the guess that it’s because they are so blindingly delicious that once people eat this, they will be disarmed by the intense chocolate-y goodness and leave the thought of war far behind them.
I bake cookies on a regular basis at home, to serve as my afternoon tea, my kids’ post-dinner dessert and sometimes even as a quick breakfast. So far, I have trained myself to be satisfied with a ration of three at a go (ok, sometimes five, on bad days), just to make sure I don’t go over-board. But with these addictive dark chocolate nuggets, any notion of portion control goes right out the window. Half of my first tray of cookies didn’t even make it past the 15-minute mark out of the oven. I had them warm and oozy, straight off the cooling rack. Needless to say, the kids went crazy for these too, especially the little girl, who hovered around the cookie jar for days on end like a hawk. Anytime one of us made a reach for the cookies (which ended up being an on-the-hour occurrence), she’d come lunging, in the most un-ladylike manner, with her mouth wide open, voraciously demanding a piece.
To Dorie’s recipe, I reduced the amount of sugar slightly, boosted the amount of sea salt, and included a teaspoonful of instant coffee granules. I like adding coffee to my chocolate recipes for another flavour dimension, and the extra smattering of salt heightens the intensity of the chocolate even further. These crisp-on-the-outside, chewy-on-the-inside cookies are sublime on their own, but they are also ludicrously good crumbled over a bowl of vanilla or coffee ice-cream. Whichever way you prefer, they are a true indulgence for any chocolate fanatic.
World Peace Cookies (makes about 50 small cookies)
adapted from Dorie Greenspan
1¼ cup all-purpose flour
⅓ cup cocoa powder
½ tsp baking soda
160g unsalted butter
½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
3 tbsp white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp sea salt
1 tsp instant coffee granules
5oz/140g chopped dark chocolate (not exceeding 85% cacao)
Sift flour, cocoa powder and baking soda into a bowl.
In a large bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer until smooth. Add both sugars, vanilla, sea salt and coffee granules; beat until fluffy, about 2-min. Add flour mixture and mix until just blended.
With a spatula, stir in chopped chocolate.
Divide dough in half. Place each half on a sheet of plastic wrap. Form each into a 1 ½ inch-diameter log and wrap it up tightly. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours, or up to 3 days. *Dough can also be frozen, well-wrapped, for up to a month. Simply thaw the log out to reach fridge temperature before proceeding.
Preheat oven to 325°F or 160°C. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, or use non-stick baking sheets.
Using a thin, sharp knife, cut logs into ½-inch thick rounds. Place rounds 1-inch apart on baking sheets.
Bake for 11-12 min. Transfer to cooling rack and cool completely before storing in airtight container.